Skip to main content

Mixing Live Sound

Lesson 14 of 17

Mix Front of House: Vocals


Mixing Live Sound

Lesson 14 of 17

Mix Front of House: Vocals


Lesson Info

Mix Front of House: Vocals

Mom was gonna bring up the vocals with vocals are gonna need some work so I'm gonna bring up the compressor morgaine I don't see you never so leave a pretty fast release on the vocals I don't want the compressor holding onto notes for very long with live vocals um what's that kind of get the mix where it's that where everything's up I've got a pretty decent idea um again this is going to be developed throughout the song but I'm gonna go and start working on some effects let's go ahead and bring up the hall river well actually start with plate for snare way with their booth I'm gonna add a little bit of hall bourbon the guitars just to kind of give us a presence on the vocals change one thing I want to do make sure really quick here it is I didn't actually route the outputs of the effects so we rotted dogs one two and three input I hear dogs three this is gonna be delay um but as you see when I was bringing up the level I wasn't hearing anything because we have to return the esso once w...

e bust dogs one to the effects it was getting there we have to return it to a affects return so I'm going to come down here and return it to effects return one and the plate to effects return too and this is something I should have done and set up and then um delay to affect return three so now there's a river you know? So I'm gonna bring up a little more snare wait turn down the feedback on that a little bit so wait okay, so once I get most of the mics set, next thing I want to do is I want to actually start mixing with my vcs um so I've got mostly mixed here I've got my vcs here um one thing I want to show you is what's called a vc a spill it basically allows me to only be looking at whatever vc is I'm looking at only tracks I'm looking at in that vc, eh? So I'm gonna double click double tap and now um these are my drum vcs bass guitar vocals and effects and we haven't signed them yet so what we're gonna do now is start assigning my vcs I'm gonna click multi sign for drums hoops we have to get out of uh multi assign for drums and I'm going to sign all the drum tracks to the drum b c a for base to base um v c eight tracks of that for guitars these two and for vocals um and then effects I'm gonna sign here do all those first case okay, so now I have all these pieces vcs I'm in if I double tap it will show me just my drums just my base just my guitars effects um etcetera so now if I'm mixing once they get the mixes of all those up that I can I can just use my vcs to adjust final final tune everything ah wait I'm just gonna check my master bus here wait take it okay so we've got basically all regain staging from the pre amp and the insert into the queue and the compressors on board into the groups that were using and then into the vcs and violent of the master bus that's the whole thing we've worked through we've looked at using accusing compressors and again mixing in queue for front of house think in terms of subtracting as much as possible I would rarely add in anything you always want to think about what kind of take away what can I remove from the mix? Not what kind of ad in and accentuate eso we've covered accusing dynamics we showed you how to assign vcs it's a little different in each council but they're all pretty similar how to use new groups on dh how teo use reverb in effects the last thing that I'm going to do for each of these is once I have the song kind of set depending on the band I'm going to go ahead and create a new um snapshot and call this um tangerine song one on dh now I have I can start to create each of these songs for each of the band for whatever band I'm working with and if I ever worked with him again then I have all the snapshots saved and I can go back to each song and have something to start with it just depends on if you're mixing the band once or if you're going to come back and work with him again but I try to get to the point where I start the big picture the festival patch that I take all the mikes and I'm using and just bring those up in the console and then once I get the mix going on each of those I condensed them toe vcs by the end of the show I'm usually just using the vcs to mix the show live to make any final change so I'm not constantly switching back and forth trying to make big changes throughout the whole thing I start with everything and I slowly work my way down to to the bigger picture stuff um s o that's going to answer some questions I see jews cued up some for me let's see zach, do you ever use techniques like parallel compression for front of house sound and do you also compress across the subgroups too that's a great question and yes, I do if you notice here I'll go back to groups the drums right here I'll go and bring up to the outputs um I have an impact compressor on just the drums eso if I soloed well if I see you so if I look at just the drums here I'm bus compressing just the drums but also if you look at each of the individual tracks, I'm not only assigning them to the group, I'm also assigning them to the left, right? So that's basically peril compression I'm compressing them, but I'm also our bus compressing all the drums, but I'm also setting them directly to the master bus un compressed um so that way I have a little bit of control of just the compressed volume here, and it makes them a little punch here, so absolutely, yes, I do that the next question is what's the difference between buses and vcs? That is a great question, so really quick simply the big difference between buses or groups and vcs is that bus is you're actually routing the audio to the bus or the group like literally the channel is being bust out and then into that channel, so any changes you make to that channel affect the gain, staging and affect the overall sound of every track going into that bus of isa is not that way of isa is not actually a bus it's just controlling the the fader volume of the tracks or the failures that are assigned to it. So it is going to allow me to change the value of all of those failures, but the audio is not actually going out from that fader into the it's just changing the volume. It's sort of like a master it's, basically a visa is like putting your fingers on all all the favors and moving them up or down that's, all of the cia is doing a bus or a group is actually sending out everything and bussing it into into that group. That makes sense think we have another video we're going to talk about. This one is queued up to talk about setting up a clear com system, I believe also with most bigger productions like this, where front house is so far from monitors, a lot of people going on, a lot of things going on, a lot of communication needs to happen, so most bigger festivals like this used what's called a clear com system, clear coms been around for a long time, and it's really simple it's like a phone line basically between backstage monitor world in front house on the way you set up a clear com system is very simple. Every station has sort of a base station with either a headset or a phone and a light. Um, and signal runs across to standard xlr s. Oh, we usually grab a channel on the snake on dh will run from the very beginning. You start with the power supply, which is right here, and the power supply plugs in with an adapter, and then you run xlr backwards. Eso instead of running female are female to male. You run male to female, so it runs backwards up a snake. Um, and it runs from here to the first station, which is right here for the monitor console. The headset plugs into that, and then it plugs into a light so I can actually call him at front of house if I want to talk to him. I pushed the signal button and his light goes off and he can answer the phone. We could talk. Um, and then the signal runs out from here from his box down the snake line up to front of house. But I have the exact same setup from the house. Oftentimes we'll have one backstage in the green room wanted at the monitor world and one in front of house. So we can sort of communicate to anyone anywhere when we need to.

Class Description

Mixing Live Sound can be one of the most daunting tasks for any engineer. In this class, Zach Varnell will walk you through the entire live sound production workflow, from loading in a PA and rigging and flying speakers to soundcheck and mixing on the fly.

In this class, you will get to see an entire day of load-in from Seattle's Capitol Hill Block Party along with a complete breakdown of a live sound production workflow and interviews with some of the country's top touring live sound engineers. 

You will learn:

  • Scaleable components of a live sound PA
  • Power distribution and management
  • Tuning speakers with a SMART system and FFT analysis
  • Mic Placement and tips for an effective soundcheck
  • Mixing front of house
  • Mixing for stage monitors and in-ears

We'll also walk through a live mix setup and interview with two touring engineers from their FOH mix position: Adam Jackson and Andy Frost (FOH and Monitor engineers for Christina Perri) and Shane Bardiau (Twenty One Pilots).

Whether you are a working live sound engineer and just want to brush up on some core concepts or you are a new engineer looking to get into live sound production, this is the place to learn all about live sound in one location.


user ee67bf

A very good overview of live sound presented by a professional sound technician. Good supporting video of a real event that Zach worked. He explained everything very well and I enjoyed the split screen views of his console work. Good job.

Navinder Gill

Zach has been Amazing ! He made it so simple to glide through the entire course ... Learnt Quite a bit .. Specially when I have an Avid Sc48 Board to work with.. Cheers !


Was fortunate to watch this live. Zach clearly is a master of his craft. I am a home studio drummer but learned allot about mixing and sound. Thank you Creative Live and Zach Varnell.